BY KEVIN BONESKE
A conditional use permit application that had been pending for almost two months after a public hearing was approved Wednesday when the Oneida County Planning and Development Committee voted 4-1 in favor of allowing Argo tours at the Forest of Antlers, a deer farm located off of U.S. Hwy. 51 in the town of Cassian.
The permit sought by Josh Russart, agent for WI Adventures LLC, included using all-terrain vehicles known as Argos for guided tours through the Forest of Antlers property when there wouldn’t be hunting going on there.
One of the concerns brought up about the application included having the trails used for the tours being out of the wetland areas. County land use specialist Kathy Ray noted that concern was addressed in an on-site tour of the property with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“We had some alterations that we made to the trails out of wetland areas – rerouted those,” Ray said.
The concern that held up action on the permit, however, was a question over access to the property with a shared driveway off of the highway.
A neighbor to the deer park, Charles Morrow, raised concern about liability over using a shared driveway and the increased amount of traffic the Argo tours could generate on it.
“They cross our driveway, so if there is an accident or anything that happens there, I’m putting my head on the chopping block,” Morrow said. “That is a main concern right now. I don’t want to have any chance of something happening.”
Though documents from the state Department of Transportation indicate Forest of Antlers has been authorized access to the highway with what is now a shared driveway, the committee member voting against granting the permit, Jack Sorensen, suggested to Morrow that he put up a fence there as the owner of the property.
“It was not our intent to shut those guys off,” Morrow said. “I could – it’s my land – I could put a fence across that whole corner, then they can’t get into their land, so then something’s going to have to force a hand for them to enter, because there’s no more driveway.”
Committee members favored adding a condition to a permit noting that access to the Forest of Antlers property is subject to approval by the DOT.
County corporation counsel Brian Desmond informed the committee of his legal opinion that access from the highway is not the county’s issue to resolve.